Former president Donald Trump threatened to drop “all association” with AT&T and DirecTV on Thursday after the satellite service dropped the conservative news channel earlier this week.
“This disgusting move comes after ‘de-platforming’ OAN last year,” Trump railed on his Truth Social platform in the early morning.
The service was removed from DirecTV as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
“The Radical Left seems to have taken over the mind and soul of AT&T,” Trump griped. “This is a big blow to the Republican Party, and to America itself. For DIRECTV to drop very popular NEWSMAX, without explanation, will not be accepted. I, for one, will be dropping all association with AT&T and DIRECTV, and I have plenty.
“This is just one of many reasons why we must WIN IN 2024!!!” the former president added.
AT&T spun off DirecTV in August 2021, but retained a 70% stake in the service, with private equity firm TPG Capital controlling the remaining 30%.
Newsmax also claimed its removal was a “censorship move” that cut it off from more than 13 million customers, and likewise compared it with DirecTV dropping OAN last year.
“This is a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship against Newsmax,” CEO Christopher Ruddy, said. “The most extreme liberal channels, even with tiny ratings, get fees from AT&T’s DirecTV, but Newsmax and OAN need to be deplatformed.”
But DirecTV said that the issue surrounded carriage rates.
“On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue to offer the network, but ultimately Newsmax’s demands for rate increases would have led to significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base,” a DirecTV spokesperson told TheWrap.com.
The drop of OAN last year was a crippling blow to the conservative network, which drew 90% of its revenue from its contract with television platforms owned by AT&T, including DirecTV. AT&T reportedly invested tens of millions of dollars in the channel, which became known for strong support of Trump while he was in office, along with broadcasting conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election. The move followed contact from two Democratic members of Congress contacted several cable TV providers asking about their role in the “spread of dangerous misinformation” leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
House Republicans sent a letter on Friday expressing concern about dropping Newsmax being an “un-democratic assault on free speech” and claimed the company was “actively working to limit conservative viewpoints on its system.”
DirecTV maintained that it held up its agreement with Newsmax beyond the initial term, which gave the channel the ability to generate significant advertising revenue at no cost. It also noted that the channel is still available for free online and on multiple streaming platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Play.